Local boy and top-banana enduro racer James Green shows you step by step how to be king of the jungle on one of his favourite trails in Staffordshire

Mecca to Midlands riders, Cannock Chase is home to the massively popular Monkey and Follow the Dog trails. With a huge catchment area that includes the UK’s second city, Birmingham, the trails keep on getting busier. The Monkey launched in 2010 and swings around undulating woodland on a tight, near continuous singletrack ribbon, blending machine-made berms and features with more natural, volunteer-built segments.
The Cannock singletrack is tightly policed and maintained as a strictly one-lane highway — any shortcuts or sneaky lines have rightly been shut down with strategic logs in the name of keeping the trail in good condition.

“Key to the Monkey’s character is a distinct trail surface. The ‘rumble strip’ pebble-strewn aggregate mix can sap rolling speed and prove slippery in all conditions”

Key to the Monkey’s character is a distinct trail surface. The ‘rumble strip’ pebble-strewn aggregate mix can sap rolling speed and prove slippery in all conditions — polished and dusty in the dry, greasy in the wet. Dropping tyre pressures a tad improves grip and momentum over the small bobbles, and 29ers are also a popular Cannock choice to eat up the rolling kilometres.

Use the slideshow above to scroll through the trail sections.

About this trail – Monkey Trail

● Length 13km
● Grade Red
● Total ascent 345m (1,131ft)
● Other options Follow the Dog
● Location Postcode is WS15 2QU for the Birches Valley Visitor Centre that serves both loops. Closest town is Rugeley in Staffordshire. Park for free on the south side of the A460 where the trail crosses if you only want to ride the Monkey trail.

James Green_2Your expert – James Green

● Local ripper and Trailhead-sponsored racer James is one of the UK’s top gravity enduro pilots. Cannock is one of his most frequent and favourite training grounds.

  • If that’s what you’re worried about why not just take the red route down Tom, Dick, and Harry? That’s much quicker than the black route (Le Singe Noir).

    Shortcutting around stuff is, in my eyes, as bad as skidding everywhere – it causes erosion and is not how the trail was designed to be ridden. It might be “cool” and “rad” in racing, but it just causes more work for the trail builders when they have to keep fixing and blocking shortcuts…as we do a lot already.

  • It was faster that way Lynsey 😉

  • Lynsey Graham

    It’s probably worth mentioning that:

    a) Parking for free just
    off the A460 does mean you can just ride the Monkey, but it also means
    less money for the trails (the Forestry Commission contribute some of
    the money from the parking at Birches Valley towards trail building)

    b) You’re supposed to go over the rocks on Le Singe Noir, not around them.
    The rut the rider is pictured riding next to the trail is erosion from
    people
    biting off more than they can chew and chickening out of riding the
    actual black graded feature, and was repaired a few months ago. 😉